Wholly well-ordered: ex presbytery and one-time Kerry youth hostel now a stylish €620k family home near Kenmare

Fully upgraded Bonane buy is on 3.5 acres, with woodland, and  interior panache
Wholly well-ordered: ex presbytery and one-time Kerry youth hostel now a stylish €620k family home near Kenmare

The Old Presbytery,  Bonane, is on 3.5 acres next to a late 1800s  church, which was built by Daniel O'Connell's grandson

Bonane, Kenmare, Kerry

€620,000

Size

225 sq m (2,500 sq ft)

Bedrooms

4

Bathrooms

4

BER

C3

THE global pandemic has changed the way we think about property, places of work, our homes, and the whole nature of

‘location’. It has introduced ‘work from home’ options for hundreds of thousands on this island — but for some, the option existed in any case long before the coronavirus struck and upended lives.

Rugged Kerry setting
Rugged Kerry setting

The family that lives in the Old Presbytery, in Co Kerry’s Bohane, relocated here about six years ago from a terraced home in East London, for quality lifestyle reasons.

But Kerry wasn’t necessarily their first choice: they also had looked at Galicia on the northwest coast of Spain as an option, attracted by mountains and sea.

Turns out, Kerry had pretty much the same, maybe minus the sunshine, and the vino, but had its own attraction: enough to bring Paul and Lucy Wilkes, and their young son and daughter, over the Irish Sea instead of the Bay of Biscay, and to the interior end of the Beara instead of the Iberian Peninsula, back about six years ago.

Kitchen comforts
Kitchen comforts

They fell for the attractions of the Old Presbytery, a late Victorian detached property by the church in the pretty Sheen Valley setting of Bonane village, six miles or 10kms from the planned heritage town of Kenmare, and the sea.

It was a house that already had had quite a busy past, reckoned to have been built around 1897, next to the ‘new’ church, in a community rich in heritage (there’s an
official Bonane Heritage Park),
archaeological remains, scenery, the River Sheen, and Caha Mountain views, all where the Beara Way meets the Ring of Kerry.

Old Presbytery Bonane and outbuilding
Old Presbytery Bonane and outbuilding

It had spent only four or five decades as a presbytery before an amalgamation of parishes saw its need to house priests and housekeepers made redundant.

It was taken on by the Irish Youth Hostel Association in the 1960s, popular as it straddled beauty spots in both Cork and Kerry, with the women’s dorms in the house, and the men’s in the separate outbuilding of c 500 sq ft.

By the 1980s it had changed hands once more, being bought by a woman who turned it into a private residence, and it also served time as a B&B.

The Wilkes family bought it and started their renovations and personal stamp on it around 2015/2016, doing considerable improvements to the walls and insulation, tackling the roof, which was stripped, refelted and substantially reslated.

Upgrades throughout, with old features retained. This is one of the two staircases serving the four bedrooms
Upgrades throughout, with old features retained. This is one of the two staircases serving the four bedrooms

They also stripped the external render and redid it with breathable lime render; put in new double-glazed sash-style windows, looking sympathetic to the house’s Victorian roots, done in easy-keep uPVC by Munster Joinery; put in a new boiler and more modern/efficient rads; did the kitchen, and thoroughly revamped and updated the décor from top to toe, while still keeping surviving older-era features, old floors and more.

Coved ceilings
Coved ceilings

Now, the family have  the energy to do it all again, and are looking for a project once more before secondary school years beckon for their children and might anchor them.

Reception room
Reception room

Having discovered a bit of a flair for renovation (evident, from the work here), and having brought the BER from a lowly F/G to a C3, they have put other Munster locations on their radar, including West Cork. They’ve even appointed a West Cork-based estate agent, Maeve McCarthy of Charles P McCarthy auctioneers in Skibbereen, to sell the Old Presbytery.

Happy landings...two of them
Happy landings...two of them

Ms McCarthy says she was charmed by the work done here and the presentation. She guides the c 2,500 sq ft four-bed home at €620,000, and at that, it offers a good bit more high-end home at the guide than a househunter might get in some of the more pricey hot-spots of coastal West Cork or, indeed, Kenmare itself.

Even though it’s next door to a church (St Feaghna’s, built in 1892 by Daniel O’Connell, a grandson of The Liberator of the same name, and fame), it stands on 3.5 acres in Bonane, which includes gardens, a 48 sq ft outbuilding with power (a former men’s dorms) and about two acres of woodland.

The couple says they get the occasional visitor who recall the Old Presbytery’s youth hostel days, usually men of a certain 60+vintage, who still appreciate the setting, scenery and walks,  with a spring in their step.

The C3 BER house is now a step-into job for any new occupants, with four bedrooms served by two staircases, with one serving two of the larger bedrooms and main family bathroom, the other serves two more bedrooms, each en suite.

Out with a scullery, in with a modern kitchen
Out with a scullery, in with a modern kitchen

At ground are a main and back hall, two reception rooms, each double-aspect and one has a stove, service room and kitchen/dining room with metro splashback tiling, oak floor and oak-topped island, plus a wood-burning stove.

Presentation is immaculate, with main rooms having coved ceilings with centre roses, doors have attractive architraves and some of the wider sash windows are Wyatt-style, with side panes.

Many of the paints are from Farrow & Ball ranges, some rooms have quirky painted themes or motifs such as bright, dramatic stripes or yellow running across a floor, up a wall and on a door edge, like a projected shaft of light: it’s fun, and funky.

Old Presbytery has earned its stripes
Old Presbytery has earned its stripes

Selling agent Ms McCarthy says there’s “a modern contemporary aesthetic here and, like all good interiors, it feels effortless. It really does need to be visited to appreciate the house, and the setting.”

Step up?
Step up?

VERDICT: All set up for new owners to work from home, wherever they come from, and the separate detached building adds further future scope, or commercial income from rentals?

More in this section

Price info
IE_180_logo
Price info

Subscribe to unlock unlimited digital access.
Cancel anytime.

Terms and conditions apply

Lunchtime
News Wrap

A lunchtime summary of content highlights on the Irish Examiner website. Delivered at 1pm each day.

Sign up
Revoiced
Newsletter

Our Covid-free newsletter brings together some of the best bits from irishexaminer.com, as chosen by our editor, direct to your inbox every Monday.

Sign up